The Dark Secret of Disney’s Shocking Haunted Mansion Changes

in Disneyland Resort, Walt Disney World


Credit: Disney

Take a look at the dark secrets and shocking changes made to Disney’s most iconic theme park attraction.

A little girl in a red dress grins on the Matterhorn.
Credit: Disney

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Over the last several decades, The Walt Disney Company has expanded into one of, if not the largest and most influential companies in the entire world. With its hands in everything ranging from films and television shows to merchandise and theme park entertainment, The Walt Disney Company can be found in nearly every aspect of our lives, whether that’s good or bad. Disney’s collection of theme parks is especially exciting due to Disney’s dedication to theming and immersion.

Recent expansions like Pandora – World of Avatar at Disney’s Animal Kingdom and Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge have set the bar high for future theme park expansions. Universal Studios has an ace up its sleeve with Epic Universe, a third theme park at the Orlando Resort that is set to open in 2025, but Disney consistently delivers quality experiences.

Avatar Flight of Passage
Credit: Disney

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However, what makes the Disney theme parks so special and magical in the first place can be traced back several decades. It’s no secret that Walt Disney Imagineering has created some of the most iconic and legendary theme park rides and attractions of all time, ranging from roller coasters such as Space Mountain and Matterhorn Bobsleds to beloved dark rides like Pirates of the Caribbean and Haunted Mansion.

Haunted Mansion specifically is considered to be one of, if not Disney’s best rides ever, consistently boasting hour-long waits or more at the Magic Kingdom. This ride can also be found in Disneyland, Disneyland Paris, Tokyo Disneyland, and Hong Kong Disneyland, though the ride itself is under different names at each park.

Haunted Mansion is truly a riveting showcase of amazing practical effects as well as incredible music and theming, all of which come together to create a lovely yet spooky adventure.

However, the ride has changed significantly over the years, with one change happening right under guests’ noses.

Haunted Mansion Holiday at Disneyland, featuring a pumpkin scarecrow dressed as santa claus
Credit: Disney

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Anyone who has ridden Haunted Mansion knows that before you actually board your “Doom Buggy,” you must enter the stretching room. This room is possibly more iconic than the actual ride and offers guests a chilling introduction to the world of the Haunted Mansion.

During this sequence, the room guests are in will begin to “stretch,” with paintings stretching along the walls, too, revealing more with each inch. However, these portraits changed in ways you may not have realized, as shown in the following post.

haunted mansion (left) stretching room (right)

A post from Parkeology revealed that these portraits were designed by Marc Davis in his signature style but have since lost their quickness over the years.

The photo below is a good example of the types of changes these pieces of art have undergone:

Credit: @Parkeology

As you can see, the portrait of the lady on the tombstone has changed significantly, not even resembling the original piece done by Marc Davis. This just goes to show you how sneaky Disney can be about changing its rides and attractions. Some of the other major changes at the Disney parks include rides like Pirates of the Caribbean, where an entire scene was changed due to how problematic it was. These portraits are incredibly dark, with more revealed about each person’s fate as the room stretches. Eventually, we discover how and why these people die, making guests’ first impression of the Haunted Mansion rather grim. The portrait of this specific lady is actually reversed, showing her on top of her husband’s tombstone, with the picture heavily indicating she killed him herself.

There have also been discussions about the stretching room’s final act, where a deceased person can be seen hanging from the ceiling. This is quite possibly the darkest moment of any Disney theme park ride, which is truly shocking, especially for the Magic Kingdom. Attractions like ExtraTERRORextrial Alien Encounter and DINOSAUR are considered to be the scariest in Walt Disney World history, but this moment truly is disturbing.

Do you enjoy riding Haunted Mansion? What’s your favorite classic Disney dark ride?

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